By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Members of the renowned Tuskegee Airmen will be one of the guest speakers at the Gadsden Etowah Patriots Associations annual Patriots Day luncheon Nov. 7, as Etowah County recognizes veterans and inducts new members into the Patriot’s Hall of Honor.
This year’s Hall of Honor inductees are William Leon Benson, posthumous award; James M. (Jack) Sims, posthumous award; F.M. Addison, posthumous award; Bobby G. Russell; Bobby M. Junkins; John G. (Jack) Page; Robert Dewey Stansell; Arnold D. Vinyard; C.B. (Red) Collier Jr.; Harold Thomas Bailey; Charles E. (Chuck) Davis; Lacy U. Weston Jr.; James M. Christopher Jr.; and Thomas Harold Smith.
Doors open at 11 a.m. for the luncheon, at Convention Hall in Gadsden. The program will begin at 11:45 a.m.
The program will conclude at 1 p.m. so that patriots can prepare for Gadsden’s Veterans Day Parade, which begins at 1:45 p.m.
The guest speakers for the induction program served in the World War II unit most recently immortalized in George Lucas’ movie, “Red Tails.
Lt. Col. Herbert E. Carter joined the United States Air Force in July 1942 and became a member of the 99th pursuit unit – one of the units that became known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Carter flew 77 combat missions against the German and Italian Air Force in the Northern Africa, Sicilian, Italian and European campaigns. Carter’ squadron achieved the outstanding record in Close Tactical Ground Support of the Allied Army. After the war ended, Carter received his B.S. degree in industrial education at Tuskegee University and his M.A. degree in administration and supervision.
Carter retired as a lieutenant colonel after 26 years of commissioned service, and he served at Tuskegee University as Associate Dean of Student Services and Administration until 1985. In 2006, Carter received the Chevalier Legion of Honor, France’s highest honor, for his outstanding service during the liberation of France.
In 2007, President George W. Bush honored the Tuskegee Airmen with the Congressional Gold Medal.
Col. Roosevelt Joseph Lewis Jr. enrolled in the U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps while attending Tuskegee University and met aviation pioneer Alfred “Chief” Anderson, the chief flight instructor and mentor to the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. Lewis gained recognition for superior performance in the ROTC and was elected “Best Major in Command” by his unit is 1966, 1969, 1982 and 1988. Lewis served in the U.S. Department of Defense, was a presidential scholar the University of Alabama and is a former secretary of the Alabama Aeronautics Commission.
Since he retired in 1991 Lewis focused efforts on aviation trining for new pilots and has guided more than 300 pilots in obtaining their licenses. He serves as chairman and CEO of Air Tuskegee Ltd. and Global One Jets, and he owns historic Moton Field, where most of the Tuskegee Airmen learned how to fly.